In eighth grade, students studied how linear functions represented by equations, tables, and graphs can be used to model and solve real world situations. Particular attention was given to using the rate of change and initial value from multiple representations to model the relationship between two values with the generalizable function, y=mx+b. In Algebra 1, students continue using and making connections between representations of linear functions. A common misconception when making connections between representations is that constant rate of change and slope can be used interchangeably when “a linear function does not have slope, but the graph of a non-vertical line has a slope.” (High School Functions progression document, page 6) Unit 2 establishes a deep understanding of the characteristics of linear functions. This understanding includes exploring linear functions geometrically by analyzing the effects of transformations on the graph by replacing f(x) by f(x) + k, kf(x), f(kx) and f(x + k) for specific values of k. These understandings allow students to compare linearity to function families studied in future units (e.g., exponential, quadratic).

In this unit, students will extend their focus from slope intercept form to reasoning about standard form and point slope form. Students begin to make distinctions about which of these forms are most beneficial when modeling a real world situation. Different contexts lend themselves to different forms of linear equations. Students may build a function to model a situation, using parameters from that situation (e.g., rate of change, start value, ordered pair). Other situations are more efficiently modeled with standard form (e.g., Dana purchased 3 brauts and 4 drinks for $8.50). Symbolic manipulation from one form to another can reveal new characteristics of the function or assist in solving systems of equations.

In 6th and 7th grade students solved one and two step equations and inequalities algebraically. In 8th grade students solved linear equations using graphs, tables, and algebraic manipulation. In this unit, students will apply what they know about solving equations and inequalities to solving multi-step inequalities which include variables on both sides. Students will make sense of what a solution means for an equation compared to an inequality. Students will extend their understanding of solving linear equations with two variables. First, they will manipulate equations to solve for specific variables. Second, students will justify their reasoning by supplying mathematical properties to explain each step in solving an equation. This work will help set the groundwork for mathematical proofs in tenth grade.

In addition, students will extend their 8th grade understanding of solving systems of linear equations to include systems of linear inequalities as representations of real world situations. Students will solve systems of linear equations exactly (e.g. with substitution principle, combination/elimination), and approximately (e.g., with graphs) with a new emphasis on the conceptual understanding and justification of why these strategies work. Students will compare and contrast the benefit of using each of these strategies in different situations.

In this unit students are using what they know about linear functions to build new understandings of piecewise linear functions including absolute value functions. In addition, students will use tables and graphs to solve absolute value equations as described in HSA.REI.D.11. The Michigan State Standards no longer require students to be able to algebraically solve piecewise and absolute value functions.